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The Future of Digital News

A future-fit mobile reading concept for The New York Times to provide news that can nourish young readers' intellectual growth and fit in their busy schedule

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The Future of Digital News 

A mobile reading experience that nourishes young readers intellectual growth through high-quality, interactive, and personalized content on-the-go


Problem framing 

Concept development


User testing


The New York Times


2021, Apr. - Jun.

My Role

Service Design

UI UX design

Design strategy

User research


Brand Identity


The New York Times needs to remain relevant and loved by its readers. There has been a noticeable drop-off in the size of news consumption over the last few years. The New York Times knows its connection to the young generation is vital for the future.


One challenge is designing a mobile reading experience that attracts young readers with long-term value.


  • Increase user engagement and subscription retention 

  • Gain more trust and subscriptions from existing users

  • Start building brand loyalty with younger groups

  • Nudge public conversation towards more pressing global problems with informed judgment and cultivated minds. 


It's an opportunity worth exploring, and we wanted to dig deeper into the significant challenges and opportunities for news publishers. We saw decreased news consumption among young generations and lesser reading from a newspaper. Media consumption has caused harmful addiction and negative psychological patterns, so we saw the urgency to bring the media on the right trajectory.

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80% of users appreciated its delightful interaction.


Prototyped this concept with ten people, and 80% could find topics that matter to them intuitively. They saw the value of how this app can help them stay informed and focused and will gladly try it out since "Now I want to read more news."


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  • What is changing from reading newspapers to interacting with digital news? 

  • Understand young reader's behavior patterns when reading news

  • Identify the value drivers and unmet needs for the current news consumption

The trend of news consumption in the US

Major media platforms to news consumption 

Main needs and drive motivate young readers

A 2016 study estimates that we tap, swipe, and click on our devices 2,617 times each day. Young people mainly consume news on social media and mobile phones.

Young people primarily find out news on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, word of mouth, and Podcasts.

Young people need news to connect with immediate circles and the big world. They want the visuals to be fun, engaging, digestible, and accessible on the go.


After interviewing 10 people aged 16 to 35, we identified 2 personas with different consumption needs and barriers and examined their pain points, attitude, and reading motives.

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Relationship with news reading in physical and digital

01/ Endless looping & Compulsive checking

Media is essential, but users can get lost in a sea of content. One story leads to another through mindlessly scrolling.

02/ Breaks 
in concentration

Loss of concentration is often caused by notification and media noise.

03/ No time for long in-depth slow reading

Reading a newspaper feels like a chore. Users only want to know what happened unless they are interested to read more. 

04/ Negative, fake, and low-quality content

Current news gives more negative emotions than positive. Users want to keep informed without being mentally disturbed.

User Needs 

Adopt smart strategies that help them break mindless behavior for media consumption.


• Have news as easily accessible and feel connected as Instagram and Twitter.

• How the visuals presented and surfaced should meet young people's expectations and incorporate each moment they check new updates.

User Goals

• Build an intentional & healthy relationship with digital news, and reduce unconscious consumption.

• Take control of what topics and content feed into their mind. Read more about what they care about and less about the irrelevant and negative. 

• Have high-quality content that has been fact-checked and that can fit into their busy schedule. 


How might we get young people to consume news?  It is crucial to analyze how frequently-used social accounts are delivering news.

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How might we help young people consume digital news better fit their lifestyle and intellectual growth through a data-enabled intelligent system?


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This narrative shows when the reader explores the app and how she interacts with some features. Our goal is to find out the moments they touch the screen and design the features that can seamlessly and quietly fit in these seconds.  

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The basic idea of the experience is split into 3 principles:


From unconscious to conscious 

Highly-tailored content gives readers control of what topics are shown on the feed without abusing their attention & time.  Only show what matters.


Nudge from fast read to slow & deep reading

High-quality and relevant content nudge young readers to dig deeper and transform them from fast news to deep reading with interests.


Leverage bite-size  moments

Reading should fit naturally into a fast lifestyle without compromising your daily intellectual growth.


Based on the above insights and analysis, I sketched 20+ different concepts converged down to 3 in the following. My goal is to ensure that the elements of digital wireframes can address unmet user needs.

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I choose these 3 screens as the most impactful idea that enables readers more control of media input. They prioritize my 3 design principles: tailored content, nudge fast news to deep reading habits, and easy-to-read visuals. 


I conducted two rounds of usability studies. The first study used a hand-sketch prototype and revealed what aspects of the mockups needed refining. 


Round 1 findings:

  • Improved information hierarchy

  • Made the discover feature more noticeable 

  • Rearranged the priority of main functions on the Tab Bar

Round 2 findings:

  • Users want a save option

  • Need some highlights on the briefs for an easy read 


Intuitive navigation was an essential user need to work with existing social media behaviors and mental models of younger people.

I used wireframes to quickly sketch initial ideas and iterate through concepts after getting feedback from test users. 

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Introducing the future experience of digital news 

The revised The New York Times mobile experience resets how we consume news. Focused on personalization and interactivity, it offers a tailored media diet to individuals bothered by media noise. Each story is fully interactive and easily digestible while allowing users to dive deep into long articles. Whether you want to be informed quickly or spend more time on the topics you care about, this revised news experience adapts to your interests.

Intuitive & Personalized Boarding Process

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1. Concise boarding requires minimal effort to invite readers to get on board. 

2.  You have control over the information you read through and quickly manage followed topics and local news.

Curation of Your Feed From the Start

3. Customize your content from the start to reduce media noise and show only what matters by filtering out irrelevant content.

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Hyper-Interactive Homepage
Stay Curious. Stay Informed.

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4. Concise, highly visual, easily digestible stories that keep young readers informed on the go.

5. Interactive stories create a new opportunity for increased ad revenue streams through sponsored content.

In-Depth Articles
Swipe Up, Read More!

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6. Visually fun and easy-to-read briefs nudge readers to read long and complex articles with a simple tap to deep dive, just like you know it from your favorite social media apps. 

7. Each story has more in-depth information in a traditional article format, which is simply accessible by swiping up. Find more related news on the homepage.

Expand Your Interests
Tailor-Made For You

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8. Browse individual stories by selected topics, which saves time and helps readers focus on what they need.

9. Generated by the algorithm based on your selection and reading history, the Discover page shows trending content relevant to you. 


Boarding Flow

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Main User Flows


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To revise the branding of The New York Times, I changed the typography and slightly adapted colors. I chose Poppins because it is modern, youthful, and easy to read. 

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Measure success by using the Google Heart Framework.



  • Download Rate

  • Registration Rate

  • Feature Adoption Rate

How many people complete the onboarding process and become regular users?



  • Average Session Frequency

  • Average Session Length

  • Number of Conversions

How often are people coming back to use this product? Are people spending more time on this app?


Task Success

  • Search Exit Rate

  • Crash Rate

  • Efficiency & Effectiveness

Can readers achieve their goals efficiently and quickly, such as easily consuming news on the go?


Having learned how media consumption has caused much mental stress and behavior addiction, I take on this project to explore practical and healthy digital options. The current social media model is a great leverage point to start. By not changing but nudging behaviors from being mindlessly media fed to consciously curating topics, I hope young readers become more interested in quality news and in-depth readings that can nourish their long-term growth.

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